Former Police Officer Pleads Guilty to ID Theft

A former Alaska police officer accused of living in the country illegally under a stolen identity has pleaded guilty to passport fraud and falsely claiming US citizenship.

Rafael Mora-Lopez was born in Mexico and spent more than two decades living as Rafael Alberto Espinoza. Court documents say the defendant’s wife, Margarita Cynthia Espinoza, was a neighbor of the real Rafael Alberto Espinoza when she lived in Guadalajara, Mexico, in the 1980s. Espinoza is a US citizen from California who now lives and works in Mexico as an attorney.

Mora-Lopez has lived in Anchorage since the late 1980s, where he worked as a city bus driver for six years before joining the city’s police force. Authorities reportedly discovered his true identity after he applied for a US passport renewal and the State Department noticed that someone else appeared to already have a passport under the same identity.

Mora-Lopez may face up to 13 years in prison at his August 25 court hearing.

The US Justice Department reports that an estimated 11.7 million people were victims of identity theft in the two years before being surveyed in 2008. The unauthorized use of an existing credit card was the most prevalent kind of identity theft.